“Daddy it’s for you.” With a big smile on his face, my son handed me his banana phone to take a call.

Going to the supermarket used to make me feel like an amateur at the gym for the first time, not knowing what to do. But with a toddler, it’s an adventure that I never expected. This time, we were on a mission from Mommy, who finally succumbed to being 9 months pregnant and admitted walking around the supermarket was a bit much.

From the moment we pulled in, my son knew the routine. He wanted to sit in a cart, but not just any cart. We had to get one that looked like a car where he could proudly drive as we went around the store. Distracted driving wasn’t a concern as my son had one hand on the steering wheel and snacked on some grapes, all while talking with a banana to his ear.

As we reached the deli counter, my social butterfly put down his phone call to say hello to the people at the counter and then it was off to find dinner. He wanted the dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, so we took turns roaring when we found them. When we went to check out, my 3-year-old batted his eyelashes and smiled at the cashier because he knew that by flirting a little, he could get himself a paid-for sticker for his shirt. I had a mix of pride and a little jealousy realizing again that my son has more game than his daddy ever had. It was just another fun morning having a little guy time together.

So I was disappointed when someone said it was nice that “I could make time to babysit” my son. I don’t believe parents babysit their children. I waited a long time to be a father, and I come from a divorced home with a blended family. So maybe I’m a little more sensitive about the role parents can play in children’s lives. My view is probably shaped by the fact that I primarily lived with my mom growing up, and she would play whatever role was needed that day. Since she worked full time, my brother and I would help fold laundry or get dinner started. There weren’t set rules, we all just helped.

That’s not to say only my mom had a role in helping me become the man I am, but she certainly impacted me. As an adult, I now see that as a kid, I didn’t understand everything going on around me with my parents’ divorce. Maybe that’s another reason why parenting is so important to me. Like most children, no matter how often my parents assured me it wasn’t about me or my fault, I wondered whether I played a role in causing their marriage to fail.

While there were challenges growing up, divorce led to many positives as well. After my mom remarried, I gained another father figure to help raise me. He was never a stepfather to me, they were both just dad, and I have different, special relationships with each of them.

Sometimes we even spent time all together. I remember the 1993 NL Championship Game when my brother, myself and both dads were in the stadium to experience the Phillies beating the Braves, together. I remember the roar of the crowd when the Phillies won and how happy I was – not just about the victory, but because I was there with my two dads. So on my wedding day, we did a “Flying V” down the aisle, because all of my parents deserved that honor.

Now as parents, my wife and I take our collective experiences growing up and meld them into something that works for us. Our son doesn’t see us doing just one role or task, but all of them. And if you ask him about daddy babysitting or spending time with him, as though it were unique, he would probably look at you with a puzzled look on his face. And it’s not because you are interrupting his conversation on the banana phone.


Read more Making Time here

March 2020
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